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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Junior doctor contract row has brought us together

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These days you don’t have to look far to see doctors pouring out their heart and soul. Social media platforms have of late been flooded with blog posts, statuses and calls to actions. The usually quiet, stoic and reserved types are out in force. I write blogs, and on the spectrum of emotionally-stunted to emotional wreck, I have always been closer to the emotional wreck side. But these people who are sharing their stories and personal struggles aren’t.

I have lost count of the number of touching accounts I have read. The dad who leaves his young family in the early hours of the morning and doesn’t see them until they are in bed. Although he is tired, he wakes up the next day to do the same thing again, compromising his quality of life for the greater good of his patients. He doesn’t want a medal and never went into medicine for a big applause or constant recognition. However the junior doctor contract has changed something.

At no other point in my six years as a medical student and in my short time as an F1 have I seen such support.

Relentless efforts to draw attention to the new contract are now making waves in the medical community and the mainstream media thankfully has not gone unnoticed. We even had our moment of glory on BBC Question time when Dr Sundeep Grewal, a medical registrar, did the medical community proud when he highlighted the issues affecting junior doctors. The noise that erupted from my house was aggressive applause and a feeling of pure pride. There is a unanimous feeling that the new contract is an assault to patient safety that undermines the work of already hard working doctors who already work over their scheduled hours to provide the standard of care their patients need and deserve.

We have already had many articles (brilliantly written might I add) about what action the medical community might take and my phone is constantly buzzing about a new development in this saga, if it’s not another Facebook update from the ever growing ‘junior doctor contract’ group it’s some breaking news being tweeted about.

Unsurprisingly, giving the situation, I am seeing no talk of the positive effects of all of this. But if my observations are correct, there are subtle change and in the interest of reporting some good news (at least in a while) I would like to draw your attention to them.

Breaking news: we are talking to each other.

Just the other day, a consultant who I didn’t know walked into the doctors’ office where I was ploughing through my discharge summaries and asked me, ‘So, F1, are you going to strike? I think you should. Apparently people in Costa earn more than you guys.’

I asked him, ‘Will you stand by us if we do?’ and he smiled back, ‘Of course we will’.

A few days ago, when I stayed on for a while after work to deal with a sick patient, the nurses all started talking about how many hours I worked and about how ridiculous my hourly rate was given the extra hours that I (and my other F1 colleagues) did. Then they started talking about the junior doctor contract. They cared and they showed it - it was nice. It brought back some sort of team spirit. For those few minutes in the late hours of the day we were all united with a common hatred and it was strangely bonding!

At no other point in my six years as a medical student and in my short time as an F1 have I seen such support.

Even the Facebook group is all playing nice. No one has an agenda, it’s not ‘your rubbish team making that referral’ or ‘that GP’ or ‘that surgeon’. We have one common goal. We might not all agree on how to reach it yet, but this talk of our NHS and our contract has fostered a subtle behavioural change. Regardless of the results of this contract, I for one vote for that to stay!

Dr Salma Aslam is an FY1 doctor in the North-East

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Readers' comments (11)

  • We need to get all doctors/nurses to strike in support - then you'll gain traction.

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  • With both Sarah Wooloson and Dan Poulter laying into Jeremys tactics one hopes that the future may be a bit brighter.

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  • Ahhhh sooo sweet

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  • Excellent blog Salma

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  • Make sure take home pay , index linked, is restored to 2004 levels before giving up any strike action. The govt will give the pay rise but take even more back in higher taxes, fees l pension contributions.

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  • Vinci Ho

    We are at a critical point in the history of ALL medical professionals in this country. And the young generations are being bullied and abused by shameless , shallow and despicable politicians of this government , a government of the GDP , by the GDP and for the GDP. They are willing to sacrifice all the social norms for the obsession of reaching surplus status of economy by 2020. The norms in the case of NHS is our virtues in maintaining the best interests of our patients , people of this country . To say this government is anti-people is simply an understatement as our Health Secretary is advocating a Chinese model(or should I say Chinese government which is considering social justice , civil liberty and rights as threat to its dictatorship and sheer capitalism).
    These young colleagues are the future of our NHS , solidify, forgetting personal calculations , to protect them and fight this war.
    ''One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. ''



    If there is a hard, high wall and an egg that breaks against it, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I will stand on the side of the egg. Why? Because each of us is an egg, a unique soul enclosed in a fragile egg. Each of us is confronting a high wall. The high wall is the system which forces us to do the things we would not ordinarily see fit to do as individuals . . . We are all human beings, individuals, fragile eggs. We have no hope against the wall: it's too high, too dark, too cold. To fight the wall, we must join our souls together for warmth, strength. We must not let the system control us -- create who we are. It is we who created the system. (Jerusalem Prize acceptance speech, JERUSALEM POST, Feb. 15, 2009)
    Haruki Murakami

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  • Looked after by a super FY2 A+E doctor at 6am yesterday. She'll be at work on Sat 17th Oct when the "juniors" are protesting. Said i'd go on her behalf. We need to support each other on this.

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  • The BMA is trumpeting today a surge in membership applications from junior doctors following the contract dispute.

    Funny how after not protecting its members and being concerned with its own self-interest for so long that when it appears to actually be doing something doctors want to join!

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  • You are supported by GPs - rise and be heard. You can hold them to ransom with your fervour and youth.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Watch this video on:
    http://vimeo.com/141316066
    Please send it out to people and make it viral on Internet

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